New Types of Typo

The digital publishing revolution has led to an exponential rise in the amount of words published - and mistakes made. A BBC report published last week claims bad spelling online can hurt revenue because it reduces reader confidence in the website and its brand. The article quotes William Dutton, an academic from the Oxford Internet Institute, as saying that while consumers “might be wary of spam or phishing efforts, a misspelt word could be a killer issue”. Readers are more suspicious of a website when its content is riddled with typos and bad grammar, and misspellings of crucial words can also result in poor results in search engine searches.

Since the report was published, Virginia Heffernan of the New York Times has blogged about typographical errors in digital publishing. She writes that the business of book publishing is changing rapidly. The emphasis now is on leaner editorial processes, reflecting tighter profit margins. Add to that the fact that word processing means several drafts can circulate at the same time, and you have an “explosion” of typos: “Rushing to publish and overlooking glaring typos may have become part of the new economics of traditional publishing.”

This story gives us occasion to correct one of our own mistakes. A story we recently published about an expensive mistake in a cookbook published by Penguin was, in fact, very much out of date - a fact brought to our attention by a reader after its publication. We apologise for the error, and hope you appreciate the irony as keenly as we do.

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